Antonis Sigalas, the mayor of the idyllic Greek island, says that Summer 2021 will be much better compared to the previous year, when the coronavirus lockdown and restrictions on foreign travel kept the number of visitors low, compared to previous years.
In 2019, before the pandemic struck, Santorini had more than 3 million visitors. In 2020, it only managed to attract close to half a million.
“In 2020 we realized from January of that year that the situation would be tough. We knew it would be a difficult year for tourism because we rely a lot on Chinese visitors,” Sigalas told Greek Reporter.
“We organized seminars with all tourism professionals to alert people on the health and safety regulations regarding the pandemic. We put in place radical measures and I think we managed to keep Santorini safe.”
However, beginning on July 15, 2020 when the airport opened, and despite the fact that the tourist season was only three months long, Santorini managed to achieve 25% of tourist revenue compared to the previous year, he says. “Our aim was to attract 500,000 tourists – except those arriving by cruise ships. We came close.”
Summer 2021 looks much brighter for Santorini
The Summer of 2021 looks much brighter for the beautiful island, which boasts an active volcano, probably the only volcano in the world whose crater is in the sea, the most romantic sunset in the world and is world-famous for its wines.
As Sigalas explains to Greek Reporter, this year, unlike 2020, visitors to the island will be certified that they are free from Covid-19. “In 2020 there were no protocols in place for a visitor. A visitor would be arriving in Santorini and we would test him or her at the airport.”
“Now, visitors have either recovered from the disease, which means they have antibodies, or they are vaccinated, or they have done a molecular test 72 hours before arrival. They are Covid-free.”
The mayor notes that the same applies to the local population and all the tourism industry workers who come to the island for the summer season.
“We have realized that we need to create a Covid-free local society too,” Sigalas says.
As of May 10, a total of 8,000 locals have been vaccinated, and the process is picking up speed. “Only a few weeks ago we administered about 80 doses per day. Now the number has gone up to 220. In a few days we would be ale to vaccinate 300 people per day,” Sigalas notes.
By the middle of June, the vast majority of the local population will be vaccinated, and, as the mayor says, “Santorini will become a Covid-safe island.”
The mayor adds that, unlike 2020, when most of the visitors were Europeans, this summer Santorini expects more travelers from Russia, China and the U.S.
“Booking are doing well. We have high expectations from the Russian and American markets. Americans are traditionally our best customers.”
Santorini hopes that the summer season which will start in July will be extended beyond the traditional closing ain October. The Greek island which has invested so much in tourism expects that 2021 will mark a new beginning after the turmoil caused by the pandemic.
Although the Greek island is notorious for having very expensive accommodations, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still some cheap hotels and places to stay available for Summer 2021.
Whether you want to stay in Fira, Oia, or a bit outside the main towns, there are indeed some affordable options on Santorini, a starting point to explore the island, its beaches, archaeological sites and taste its world-famous wines.
The wines are renowned for their exceptional quality and unique character, while the island’s vineyards are the oldest in Greece, some with trees planted 300 years ago.
The island’s wines owe their unique quality to the volcanic soil of the idyllic isle. The highlights of Santorini’s microclimate are severe droughts, and strong, desiccating winds sweeping over the entire island; however, dense night mists rising from the volcanic caldera provide just the right amount of moisture for the grape crop.